Archive for March, 2013

March 29, 2013

photo of the Shroud

C.S. Lewis in a letter to Sister Penelope from Oct 9, 1941:

…Thank you very much for the photo of the Shroud. It raises a whole question on which I shall have to straighten out my thought one of these days.
Yours sincerely,
Clive Lewis

March 20, 2013

finding contrition of heart and poverty in spirit

From the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 740 or 720):

My own thoughts like thieves have attacked me, wounding me and covering me with sores. Come now, O Christ my Saviour, to heal me.
A priest was the first to see me naked and in dreadful condition, but he passed by on the opposite side of the road. Then a Levite came but he too ignored me. O Jesus, Who dawned on the world from Mary, come now Yourself and have pity on me. [Wednesday, Ode 1]

Cast out of the banquet for lack of clothes fitting to wear, I awoke with empty lamp like the foolish virgins to find the door to the bridal chamber also closed to me. The supper is eaten but I lay cast out, bound tightly hand and foot. [Wednesday, Ode 4]

O my soul, you have not imitated the prostitute who having washed the Saviour’s feet with her tears and anointed them with perfumed ointment from a costly jar. For this the Lord proclaimed to her, “Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven, for your faith has saved you” [Wednesday, Ode 9]

You, my soul, desire to build a tower as a fortress for your lusts, as the people of Babel erected a tower to increase their strength. But as He did with them, so will the Creator also overthrow your desires and shatter all your plans.
How well have I imitated those first murderers, Cain and Lamech! Through the desires of the flesh I have killed my soul as did Lamech a man, and my mind as once he did a young man. I have also murdered my body as did Cain his brother.
Long ago the Lord rained burning sulfur on the city of Sodom to consume its flagrant wickedness. But you, O my soul, have kindled within yourself the fires of hell which now are about to consume you! [Thursday, Ode 2]

Two thieves were crucified beside You, O Christ. The one abused You while the other confessed You to be God. O most merciful Lord open to me the doors of Your glorious kingdom as You did to the believing thief.
Creation shook beholding Your crucifixion, O Jesus. The mountains and rocks split in fear; the earth quaked and Hell surrendered its prisoners. The sky grew dark at midday seeing You nailed in the flesh to a cross.
O only Saviour, do not require of me in my weakness fruits which will show that I have changed my ways. Grant rather that finding contrition of heart and poverty in spirit, I may offer these to You as a pleasing sacrifice.
Since You know me, O my Judge, look on me in compassion when You come to judge the whole world. Spare and have mercy on me, though I have sinned more than any other. [Thursday, Ode 9]

March 15, 2013

how gloriously different are the saints

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:

At the beginning I said there were Personalities in God. I will go further now. There are no real personalities anywhere else. Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most “natural” men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.

March 14, 2013

expect temptation

Two translations of a great piece of advice from Abba Anotny:

Antony once told Abba Pambo: “Don’t worry about what was done in the past.” It was not really a matter of recognizing sins, but of recognizing oneself as a sinner. In so doing, one saw one’s true status before God. And that recognition came not so much from dwelling on past deeds, but on present “thoughts,” those haunting logismoi, that convicted one again and again of one’s status as a sinner. As Antony would put it, “This is a person’s magnum opus: to place guilt [for sins] upon himself and himself alone before God, and to expect temptation up until the last moment of his life.”

Abba Poemen said that blessed Abba Anthony used to say, ‘The greatest thing a man can do is to throw his faults before the Lord and to expect temptation to his last breath.’

March 2, 2013

treacherous generals

Below is an English translation of “Explico Algunas Cosas” by Pablo Neruda.

I’m Explaining a Few Things

You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?

I’ll tell you all the news.

I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.

From there you could look out
over Castille’s dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel?
Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
Everything
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings —
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children’s blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!

Treacherous
generals:
see my dead house,
look at broken Spain:
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull’s eye of your hearts.

And you’ll ask: why doesn’t his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets,
come and see
the blood in the streets,
come and see the blood
in the streets!

[English translation by Nathaniel Tarn (American poet, essayist, translator, and editor) in Selected Poems: A Bilingual Edition, by Pablo Neruda. London, Cape, 1970.]

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